Who Needs A Barber When You Have a Starfish? British Columbia Sea Kayak Adventure: Part 3

Starfish pedicellariae can clip the hair off an arm. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Quy bent the starfish over my wrist, and it clipped hair off my arm while I took a selfie of the process.

I’ve never been much of a with-it type guy. When there is a fad, I try to do the opposite. But I confess I’ve tried a selfie or two. And I just had to take a picture of the starfish clipping hair off of my arm. When Quy picked up a starfish on our six-day, British Columbia sea kayak adventure and offered to demonstrate pedicellariae at work, I was the first to volunteer. Pedicellariae what, you say?

While you are probably stumbling over the word like I did, I’ll explain how it works. Starfish have a defense mechanism for destroying tiny parasites that land on their skin. They have tiny claws that cut the bad guys in half. If you put these claws under a microscope, they look like your worst nightmare. (Check this out.)

Quy, however, assured us that while the pedicellariae would define our hairs as enemy invaders and clip them off, there would only be a slight pulling sensation with no harm done to us. Easy for him to say, right. But that’s what happened. Quy bent the arm of the starfish over my wrist and I felt the pulling sensation. When he removed the starfish, my arm was bare. Peggy was up next.

Here is the starfish happily at home in Johnstone Strait before Quy picked him up to clip hair.

Here is the innocent starfish, happily at home in Johnstone Strait before Quy picked him up to clip hair.

And here, the starfish goes to work on Peggy. Is that a smile or a grimace on her face?

And here, the starfish goes to work on Peggy. Is that a smile or a grimace on her face?

I expected whales and striking scenery on our Sea Kayak Adventures’ trip, but hair-removing starfish, no way. The pedicellariae were only a small part of our second day, however. We kayaked from our campsite on Hanson Island to Compton Island on Blackfish Sound. Along the way we watched humpback whales and were once again awed by the beauty of the region. At Compton Island, we got to play with our food….

Sea Kayak Adventures provides a hearty breakfast to its sea kayakers.

Coffee would be waiting when we got up each morning— to be followed by a hefty breakfast. Here, our guide, Nick, whips up French toast in the make-shift kitchen.

Fishing boat in Johnstone Strait off of Hanson Island. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

After breakfast, we had time to go for a brief walk. A fishing boat moves between islands on  Johnstone Strait looking for salmon.

Limpets and snails are exposed by low tide on Hanson Island British Columbia off of Johnstone Strait. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Low tide exposed theses limpets and snails.

Green waters of a small bay on Hanson Island on Johnstone Strait off of Vancouver Island. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

We peered in to the green waters of the small bay we were camped on.

Sunlight illuminates a very green forest on Hanson Island in British Columbia. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

And were dazzled by the sun illuminated green of the forest.

Sea Kayak Adventure group works its way around Hanson Island, British Columbia in the fog.

Morning fog greeted us as we worked our way around Hanson Island and into Blackfish Sound. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Seals and seagulls on an island in Blackfish Sound, British Columbia.

We checked out these seals and seagulls on a small island. Or were they checking us out? (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

By the time we had worked our way around the end of Hanson Island, the sun was beginning to peak through. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

By the time we had worked our way around the end of Hanson Island, the sun was beginning to peak through. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Sea Kayak Adventure kayaks roped together in small inlet on Hanson Island. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

I took this picture of our kayaks at lunch. They were roped together so they wouldn’t stray.

After lunch, we followed out trip leader, Julia, out into Blackfish Sound. As you will note, most of our on-water photos are taken by Peggy. I was busy paddling. (grin) (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

After lunch, we followed out trip leader, Julia, out into Blackfish Sound. As you will note, most of our on-water photos were taken by Peggy. I was busy paddling. (grin) (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

A whooshing sound caused us to stop and search for whales. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

A whooshing sound caused us to stop and search for whales. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Peggy Mekemson prepared to photograph whales in Blackfish Sound, British Columbia. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

I took this photo of Peggy poised to capture a picture of the whale with her telephoto.

Thar she blows! We spot the tell-tale spume of a humpback whale as it surfaces. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Thar she blows! We spot the tell-tale spume of a humpback whale as it surfaces. That’s a kayak paddle on the right.(Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The humpback, brought in closer by Peggy's telephoto, dives back under the water. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The humpback, brought in closer by Peggy’s telephoto, dives back under the water. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

I liked the watch the waves distorted the reflection of Quy in the water. Edie and Dave look on. The other kayakers are watching the approach of a cruise ship. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

I liked the way the waves distorted the reflection of Quy in the water. Edie and Dave look on. The other kayakers are watching the approach of a cruise ship. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The cruise ship. You can imagine how big the ship seems from the perspective of a kayak. You do not want to get in the way. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The cruise ship. You can imagine how big the ship seems from the perspective of a kayak. You do not want to get in the way. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Sea Kayak Adventures group relaxes on beach at campsite on Compton Island, British Columbia.

Our group, having safely navigated through the whales and the cruise ships, relaxes at cocktail hour in our campsite on Compton Island. It was right about then that a fishing boat approached the beach.

"Would you like a salmon?" he asked— and to our enthusiastic  yes, threw it overboard.

“Would you like a salmon?” he called out— and to our enthusiastic, yes!, threw it overboard.

Coho salmon caught in Blackfish Sound, British Columbia. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

The ever energetic and vivacious Lindy retrieved the salmon and handed it off to Quy.

Quy was happy to pose with the salmon, until...

Quy was happy to pose with the salmon, until…

Sea Kayak Adventures guide reacts to wiggling salmon he thought was dead.

… it wiggled.

The true hero of the day was Dennis who now lives in Idaho but has fished extensively off of Alaska. He offered to fillet the fish.

The true hero of the day was Dennis, who now lives in Idaho but has fished extensively off of Alaska. He offered to fillet the fish.

Here, Dennis goes to work.

Here, Dennis goes to work.

A filleted coho salmon displaying roe. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

And displays the rich red meat, roe, and innards of the salmon. The salmon made a delicious lunch the next day, easily feeding all of us.

Photo of barnacles off of Compton Island in Blackfish Sound, British Columbia. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

It was after all of the salmon excitement that we discovered the starfish, and these barnacles.

Members of our group enjoy a quiet moment at the end of the day, hoping for a whale to appear. Next blog: we kayak to Berry Island and hear a tale about Bigfoot.

Members of our group enjoy a quiet moment at the end of the day, hoping for a whale to appear. Next blog: we kayak to Berry Island and hear a strange tale about Bigfoot.

31 comments on “Who Needs A Barber When You Have a Starfish? British Columbia Sea Kayak Adventure: Part 3

  1. I enjoyed the photo commentary, very entertaining, and leaves me, who isn’t this kind of adventurous, longing to join. As for the pedicellariae, you and Peggy are brave. Wouldn’t have dared!

    • Thanks, Timi. It’s a relatively safe adventure. Definitely worth it with good guides. As for the pedicellariae, I had faith in Quy knowing what he was talking about. Also, I’ve handled a number of starfish over the years without any bad things happening. 🙂

  2. What a truly marvellous day. What did it feel like having a short back and sides from a starfish? The sight of that tour ship must have been incredible from your tiny perch on the waves.

  3. My favorite photo is the one showing the two fog-bound trees on Hanson Island. The starfish tale is so funny. I remember the sensation of being “nibbled,” but can’t quite call up which creature it was. The various behaviors that have evolved, defensive and otherwise, are amazing.

    Compared to the pale orange, artificially colored salmon that show up in our markets — well. I wouldn’t have minded being around for that dinner, one bit.

    • The salmon turned out delicious. Our guides were accomplished cooks. And wasn’t that color something.

      The tress were beautiful.

      As for the starfish, it was a fascinating bit of information about nature. It was certainly a lesson I’ll never forget.

      Curt

  4. I love that there’s a whole blog dedicated to the Pelli-whatsis-names and their cousins. Wonderful pictures, we have a beautiful drawing of pines like the pair on Hanson Island. I can imagine how alarming the cruse ship would have been. I remember being terrified (as a child) by the much smaller barges when canoeing on the Elbe Estuary.

    • We were fortunate, Hilary, to be well out of the way of the cruise ship. And we stayed off the waterways when they were covered in fog. That would be scary.

      I always love the way that you can find almost anything on the Internet, including an article on Pelli-whatsis-names. 🙂 –Curt

  5. What a contrast between your kayaks and that cruise ship. While I’ve never been on a cruise ship I know people who enjoy them. But for me, I’d much prefer your kayaking adventure. Thanks again for taking us along.

  6. Pingback: Bits of November: The Thing About Coming Home | Journeys of the Fabulist

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